Parents who protest against various school rules, to the point of issuing threats to school boards, could be investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) if their complaints involve acts of violence that may be regarded as domestic terrorism.
The directive to investigate the parents comes from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who issued a memorandum that indicated a disturbing trend involving parents against teachers, school staff, and members of the school boards. Garland said these violent threats are illegal and "run counter to our nation's core values."
FBI's potential investigations into the threats to school boards come after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked President Joe Biden's help amid several harassments experienced by school workers. The NSBA suggested that Biden enforce the Patriot Act, passed after the 9/11 attacks, on these harassments.
Teachers have been quitting their jobs because of these incidents that stem from different policies over masking, transgender rights, vaccination, and school curriculums like critical race theory.
But Asra Nomani, the vice president of the advocacy group Parents Defending Education, said that the government is criminalizing parents for ordering the FBI to investigate them. She demanded an apology from Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray as parents are not domestic terrorists. Nomani has been vocal about opposing critical race theory in school curriculums.
Dear @TheJusticeDept Merrick Garland and @FBI Director Christopher Wray,— Asra Q. Nomani “Domestic Terrorist” (@AsraNomani) October 5, 2021
This is what a domestic terrorist looks like?
You are criminalizing parenting, and you owe the people of America a swift apology.
Asra Nomani @DefendingEd https://t.co/McvDgeF9j3
Some parents also believed Garland's memo was meant to shut down opinions that did not align with the liberal agenda. Florida Gov. Ron de Santis said that the attorney general has been "weaponizing" the DOJ and the FBI against the parents.
Ian Prior, the former DOJ Principal Deputy Director of Public Affairs, said that this order is an attempt to stop parents from using their First Amendment rights. While he acknowledged that there are legitimate threats to school boards that the authorities should look into, he still believes that the DOJ order is an effort to curtail freedom of speech.
Other parents questioned Garland over data or evidence to show a "disturbing spike in harassment" and threats to school boards. The parents said there are also cases where the school workers shun the parents if they complain about the rules, but the government is not quick to lift a finger and go after them.
"The moment parents speak up about their children being taught poisonous Critical Race Theory, they spring into action and label these parents 'domestic terrorists,'" one parent said.
'Very Tough Stance'
Lawmakers across the country have sought answers and clarifications about Garland's memo since he did not detail what incidents could be considered threats to school boards that would make them criminally liable. The attorney general also did not say what sanctions parents could face if they are to be investigated. Sen. Tom Cotton said he had written Garland with questions about the directive.
Former President Donald Trump has also aired his opinion about this controversy during a podcast talk with John Solomon. He felt that the order was a "very tough stance" against the parents who are just concerned for their children. Trump said that the parents should have a voice on how their kids should be educated in school.
During his term, Trump established the 1776 Commission to prevent the radical indoctrination of students. Once Biden took office, he disbanded the commission.
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